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Monday, October 10, 2016

10092016 - 20th Sunday After Trinity - Apostle's Creed - "He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty"

October 9, 2016
He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty

Last week we heard and confessed one of the least believed and most misunderstood parts to our confession of the Apostle’s Creed.  We confessed that Jesus Christ, Son of God, descended into Hell.  Hell is the eternal resting place of the devil and all those who follow and refuse to confess their sin and receive the forgiveness of God that He so freely offered with Jesus Christ willingness to go the Cross of Calvary.  But Jesus as the Son of God, not only overcame Hell but overcame death and the grave and rose from the dead.  Hence why we not only weekly confess a creed or common confession, whether the Apostle’s or Nicene Creed, but believe that the end of the story is not Jesus death on Calvary, but Jesus Christ resurrection on Easter Sunday and our weekly gathering to celebrate Jesus triumph.
For when Jesus Christ arose from the grave salvation history turns an important page.  The disciples formerly hiding behind locked doors afraid for the same fate, are now overjoyed, because Jesus has arisen.  Ironically the disciples don’t know for how long.  But like any home coming, the joy felt by the disciples must have been tangible.  Because now in their presence Jesus Christ is the resurrected Christ.
Since we can look back with a clarity that only comes with looking into the past, our eyesight is clear.  When we read the stories we know and believe that Jesus only had a limited time on earth after His resurrection.  This period is the great 40 days.  In Lutheranism 101 and the Gospel of Mark, we talk about this often of these 40 days, because at the end of them, a grand event will occur.
In the Second Article we confess, “He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty”.  We confess that Jesus Christ would after 40 days ascend.  Matter of fact here in our sanctuary we not only confess this truth, but our confession is backed up by some simple liturgical actions.
First our church has as our major focus, the altar, where we pray to God, but also receive the sacrament of Holy Communion.  Above that is our stained glass window of Jesus Christ that is so priceless.  Yet on the altar we have not only the candles we light to show God’s presence both for every service, but also for communion and next to the altar is one of the best teaching tools for the Apostle’s Creed.
Some call it the Pascal Candle others the Christ Candle, but this candle unlike most liturgical vessels does something uncommon.  It moves.  The movement that it does has a set pattern that daily reminds and teaches us where Jesus Christ is during each season of the church year.
Let’s start with Christmas Eve.  On Christmas Eve the Christ Candle is moved from the Altar where it is currently to the sanctuary floor of the church.  This signifies Jesus Christ birth in Bethlehem and His life here on earth among mankind.  The candle stays there until after Jesus death on Calvary for you and for me.
On Easter Sunday the Christ Candle moves next to the Baptismal Font as a bold confession by we the church of Jesus Christ that we in, through and by our baptism are connected for all eternity with Jesus Christ life, death and especially His resurrection.  Hence why we use a pall at funeral services to not only show our equality with one another, but it is the perfect reminder of God’s claiming us through Holy Baptism and our being claimed by Jesus Christ by Water and Word..
Then 40 days after the resurrection which comes on a Thursday, we celebrate what we continue to confess in the Apostle’s Creed.  We confess that Jesus Christ, “He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty”.  In these 16 words we then watch, see and more fully understand that the Christ Candle that had resided at the Baptismal font as a reminder of our baptism moves again in its journey to the altar. 
Liturgically the altar area is a reminder of heaven, since the altar is a symbol for the Ark of the Covenant, that Moses and the Children of Israel carried to the promise land.  For God’s Glory was revealed for the people in the Ark of the Covenant on the journey to the promise land until Solomon built the Holy Temple that Jesus would go to in Jerusalem.  And why when we not only confess Jesus Christ ascension, but His being seated at the right hand of God the Father it is in order for us to not only understand but believe that Jesus Christ continues to watch over us.
With our use of the Christ Candle, we not only teach more about Jesus Christ, but it solidifies our confession of the Apostle’s Creed and what it still means for us today.  If there is one thing that could be taken away from our confession of Jesus Christ and that “He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty”, it can simply be this, Jesus Christ sitting on the throne of God still is watching over us today.

You see, other churches believe the Holy Bible, but if a farmer only did the one action of planting the seed and expected it to grow overnight, it is pure fantasy.  We, the church, are on a journey here at Emmanuel.  We not only lay claim to the confession of the creeds, but we also clearly believe in Jesus Christ and that “He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty”.  Jesus Christ, Second person of the Trinity is watching us from heaven, interceding for us and sending the Holy Angels to guard and protect us daily.  For with our use of the Christ Candle, we make an acclamation of faith.  We make a connection not only with Jesus Christ ascension and sitting at the right hand of God, but with Jesus personally.  May we continue to connect with Jesus Christ and follow and believe our bold confession that “He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty”.  AMEN.

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